5. Aria

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Aria
Lemon pound cake with lemon cream and Valencia oranges

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

When it comes to Instagram likes, top-­restaurant lists, and general dining buzz, Aria frequently misses out. After all, it opened back in 2000, sports a stark white-on-white dining room, and sits on a dull stretch of road between Buckhead Atlanta and Piedmont Road’s flashy steakhouse strip. But if you care about flawlessly executed food that wrings flavor from every bite, Aria is a very big deal indeed. Gerry Klaskala, a 45-year veteran of the kitchen, is a frequent fixture on the line, and his presence ensures consistency in American classics like those caramelized, melting short ribs braised the old-fashioned way. He easily pivots from land to sea, serving tender octopus in a spicy romesco sauce and pairing yellowtail sashimi with grapefruit and oranges, all singing in a perky three-citrus ponzu sauce. Kathryn King’s desserts—her unrivaled warm chèvre cheesecake, a toasted lemon pound cake with an inexplicably creamy center (below)—are spectacles of their own.

490 East Paces Ferry Road, 404-233-7673, aria-atl.com

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